Notes and observations as I struggle to learn how to play chess from scratch.

What I’m trying to keep in mind while playing:

  1. Stick to symmetrical e-pawn openings until I learn to navigate opening principles.

  2. Don’t panic when opponents break opening principles, just stick to them myself as much as possible.

  3. Keep my pieces defended and look for my opponent’s undefended pieces.

  4. Check carefully what becomes undefended when I plan to move a piece.

  5. Consider letting my opponent initiate trades early on so I develop a piece into the centre when re-capturing.

  6. Don’t move my pieces into the opponents half of the board until they can be well supported there.

  7. Develop my knights quickly.

  8. Castle early to get my king out of the centre.

  9. Get the back rank clear to connect my rooks.

  10. Get bishops onto long diagonals where they control more squares.

  11. Move rooks onto open files, especially if they x-ray the opponent’s king.

  12. Spend plenty of time calculating trades, and watch for defenders that are behind others.

  13. Prefer keeping bishops over knights if all else is equal.

  14. Watch for pins on my pieces that prevent re-capturing when trading.

  15. Be more open to trading evenly when I have a material advantage.

  16. Scan for forks, for and against, especially when a knight is in my half.

  17. Be patient when I have a material advantage in the endgame.

  18. Be mindful of losing pieces by being forced to move out of check in the endgame.